ARU to clamp down on doping
Sydney - The Australian Rugby Union will significantly expand its integrity unit and conduct more than 200 drug tests this year after revelations of widespread doping in Australian sport, reports said on Friday.
A year-long probe by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) unveiled on Thursday identified common use of prohibited substances across multiple sporting codes.
Ahead of next week's kick-off to the new Super 15 season, incoming ARU boss Bill Pulver, who was confidentially briefed before the report's release, said rugby union was not under the ACC microscope.
"There is no current investigation of any of these matters in relation to rugby," Pulver told The Australian newspaper.
But Pulver, who is in his first week in the job, said the ARU had no option but to tighten its defences.
"It would be naive to suggest the problem does not exist in rugby union as well and therefore we really do need to up the ante in terms of putting in place resources, processes and systems to make sure the integrity of our sport remains intact," he said.
When asked if the ARU's integrity unit would be significantly expanded, Pulver, who replaced John O'Neill as chief executive, said: "I suspect there will need to be an expansion of our investment in this area.
"Clearly this is a very important area in the future of our game and so we will invest accordingly."
The unit is headed by Phil Thomson, who was previously a Federal Police detective who became team manager for the Brumbies and Wallabies. He works with the ARU's legal counsel, high performance unit and the general management team.
Pulver said 222 drug tests would be conducted across the Wallabies, the five Australian Super Rugby franchises and the Australian men's and women's Sevens teams this year.
The ARU boss said anyone involved in drug-taking or match-fixing in rugby faced multi-year bans.
"And there is a very real prospect of some offenders going to jail," he added.
Thomson said there had been no ARU investigations into illicit drug use in professional rugby union in Australia during his three years as integrity manager.
In previous years former Wallabies winger Wendell Sailor (2006) and ex-Test second rower Justin Harrison (2009) received bans for illicit drug-taking.